Canadian judge rules in favour of blood service which bans gay men
A Canadian judge has ruled that a blood donation service has the right to bar gay men.
Canadian Blood Services sued 36-year-old gay man Kyle Freeman for negligent representation after he admitted lying about his sexual orientation on blood donation forms.
Mr Freeman counter-sued, saying that the questionnaires, which are used to screen blood donors, are discriminatory.
He also argued that the policy of barring gay men from donating blood reinforces the stereotype that all gay men have HIV, furthering discrimination.
Today, Ontario Superior Court Justice Catherine Aitken sided with Canadian Blood Services.
In her decision, she wrote: “I accept that as individuals, many gay and bisexual MSM [men who have sex with men] may experience a loss of dignity, a feeling of marginalisation, a sense of disappointment, and a sense of injustice when denied the opportunity to give blood, and these reactions may be all the stronger and more poignant due to the history of discrimination experienced by gay and bisexual men.
“These are significant ramifications on the quality of life. That impact, however, is not in the same league as a blood recipient who has to use blood or blood products in order to survive or make life livable, and who is asked to accept lower safety standards even though an adequate supply of blood could be provided if higher safety standards were imposed.”
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Mr Freeman argued that he wasn’t a risky donor because he had regular HIV tests and did not have unprotected anal sex unless with a long-term partner who had also been tested.
However, tests revealed his blood was actually infected with the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis, prompting the blood donation service to sue.
Canadian Blood Services has not yet commented on the ruling.
Previously, it has argued that the ban is necessary because men who have sex with men are simply more likely to be infected with HIV.
Although blood is screened for HIV and other diseases before being given to patients, blood ban advocates argue that as tests cannot pick up the infection in the first three months since transmission, those who have had sex with another man must be screened out.
Many countries, including the UK, bar gay men from giving blood.